We were all once alien babies cryogenically preserved for future world domination in the mothership.
We were once embryos floating in the micro-oceans of our mother’s wombs.
Our first trauma was to be born into this brave new world of bright light, pain, and gravity.
We were all born malleable like amoebas.
What happened to us?
How did we get such ugly, dirty shapes?
The world leaves its first fingerimprints on us as soon as we are pressed to our mother’s teat.
We can call these fingerimprints pleasure and pain. We suckle and then are denied. We experience the pains of our body and the alleviation of these pains and discomforts. We have not yet learned adult concepts like restraint and moderation.
As we become aware of our bodies, we respond the most primally to satisfy these biological needs.
All objects are originally neutral with no good or evil value. We learn to catalog experiences as either pleasure or pain. This cataloging is necessary in order to efficiently process information. We are overwhelmed with so much that our brain cannot process the totality of reality without tricks. If we were to lose our cataloging tendencies, the results would be paranoia– the inability to associate objects with a value system. The mind then makes up its own value system and makes random and dangerous connections. Street signs follow you. The Bee Gees plot to kill you.
Salvador Dali refers to the opposite – the cleansing of these pre-packaged catalogs – as the paranoid critical method. He explained it as the “spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and systematic objectivity of the associations and interpretations of delirious phenomena.” What the fuck, right?
But still, the artist attempts to clear the subconscious of preconceptions and then make new connections between objects, effectively blurring reality into a new synthesis.
One might argue though that we are in the beginnings of magick, making up our own reality.
We learn what is pleasing. We seek pleasure. We move towards what is safe.
We avoid pain. We learn what hurts us. We move away from what hurts us.
If we were Freud, we have entered the oral stage.
If we were Maslow, we have begun to experience the physiological level in the hierarchy of needs.
Excuse me, sir, but do you mind if I stick my Freud in your Maslow?
One can see the oral stage as simply a component in Maslow’s theory of basic needs.
What are these basic needs? Simply put: breath, eat, drink, fuck, sleep, shit, stay the same.
Let’s create in our minds our world of pleasure and pain based upon our body’s needs (or at least mine, for an example):
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All I need to relax are three deep breaths from the pit of my stomach. I am calm again. I love to see my breath in the cold air. I love the smell of coldness like hot coals burning in a barbecue grill. I love the subtle smell of vanilla perfume or any perfume with a cookie or dessert scent. The act of smelling alone is erotic, tracing my nose across someone’s skin.
I cannot stand the smell of cigarettes or the subtle urine smell of an unclean bathroom. When I wash my white clothes, the smell of bleach is too much. Or when I hang around someone with subtle body odor, I linger at a distance. I worry about my own breath and always carry breath mints.
I like variety and self-service (since customer service generally sucks). Buffets are my favorite. I particularly like Chinese buffets and CiCi’s pizza restaurant where they have smaller slices of pizza where you can sample a whole bunch of pizza recipes. I like to go to hibachi grills where they cook in front of me (but they have to entertain me as well). I also like Fuddruckers: a nice medium-well Chipotle BBQ, but I like the fries and dips the most. When I go, I get one of each dip – hot sauce, mayo, ketchup, steak sauce, BBQ sauce, and whatever – and dip my fries in each. I like shrimp and crab legs. I like eating sushi. I also like making ice cream cones with as many scoops as I can balance. For dessert, I love Applebees triple chocolate meltdown, and my all time favorite dessert is Death By Chocolate. I’d like to have a buffet of pie, with small slices: strawberry-rhubarb, cherry, hot apple, blueberry, coconut custard, lemon meringue. I also like lamb chops and steak with plenty of A1 sauce. I like hot wings and have a hot sauce collection. I like cheese whiz and always ask for Pepperidge farm meat and cheese baskets for Christmas: I love making cheese and meat crackers. I like cruising the miracle mile and going through the drive-throughs for a smorgasbord: $1 menu from BK and MickeyD’s, KFC, a couple Taco Bells. I’d prefer not to eat in a restaurant but take it someplace else.
I don’t like heavy foods, which includes mainly German and Polish food. I don’t eat much pasta although a good meat sauce will sway me for a day. The same goes for any type of heavy carbohydrate or starch like potatoes or macaroni and cheese. I hate sit down dinners mainly because of the uncomfortable silence that comes along with them. I don’t like salty foods or most fried foods (with the exception of KFC or French fries).
I drink Mountain Dew like a fiend for the caffeine and prefer the Code Red for the color. I like fresh carbonation that rips out my throat. I’m not much of a drinker of alcohol but when I do, I would prefer to lay out a variety of shots in front of me, usually a Buttery Nipple, a Flaming Rockstar, and Rumplemintz. A simple Rum and Coke would be fine with me. I like cold water and that yellow colored Gatorade as refreshers and a V8 Splash as the occasional alternative. Although the taste is horrible, I like ginger beer, and root beer when I’m off my Mountain Dew addiction.
I can’t stand iced tea or anything diet or those fruity flavored water things. I don’t drink coffee. Neither do I drink beer that often or enjoy the flavor of many stiffer drinks. I drink too much Mountain Dew and sometimes during my hectic stressful schedules can down a 12 pack in a couple days.
Fucking for me needs to be spontaneous and I tend to get horny in public places like department stores because these are part of a casual routine. There’s nothing natural about “going back to my place.” It’s artificial. I’m not a spooner. I like to get entangled with my lover’s face to face, particularly in sitting positions like Kama’s Wheel. Sometimes I just want to be a piece of meat and lie there passively while getting fucked till I orgasm while other times I need to worship and explore my lover’s body while in deep conversation. I also like it under the sheets. My fetish areas are my breasts, stomach, and back.
I sometimes see sex as a chore where I have to please the other person and go through elaborate rituals or use kinky devices to make everything fresh. I get so caught up in pleasing the other person – what position would please him the most – that sex becomes all about the act and not the enjoyment. The intimacy is lost and I become consumed in the bodily response. I don’t know why I hate that, where I have to fuck with my mind and not my body or heart.
A good sleep doesn’t end when I awake but leaves me in a comfortable in-between, awake but my eyes still closed, my body relaxed and limp. I can just lie there. On the weekends or days off, I like to sleep past the time I’m supposed to get up, so if I normally head to work at , I like to sleep until 12. I don’t like to sleep alone. I like king sized beds where I can sprawl out in any which way. I like lying on the bed when I’m wet, freshly out of the shower or the rain. I can’t sleep with clothes on and usually have to wear just underwear, a camisole(e), and socks. No matter how warm it is, I need to wrap myself in at least two blankets. I use a fan and soft New Age music as white noise. I hug a giant body pillow.
I get insomnia a lot. I sleep during the day and can’t sleep at night (no thanks to all the caffeine I consume). I often wake up within an hour of falling asleep, often in a paranoid state looking for cameras. I once checked the smoke detector in my dorm room and recently a patch of light on the wall made me suspicious. I always wake up half an hour before my alarm goes off. Many times I wake up just to check the time.
Wow, what a topic but okay, I enjoy the type of shit where I feel completely empty. You know, the type where you know you’re done because you get this feeling of being totally emptied. You are cleansed.
I was actually a very anal retentive child because I had bad constipation. I would hold it in for days; one time my mother yelled at me because I ruined a party. I had horrible gas pains from not taking a shit and had to go to the doctor. When I tried vegetarianism for the first time, I became extremely constipated. I felt like I had to shit but couldn’t. It took me about an hour to finally take a shit and it was such an ordeal that I felt like Jesus resurrected afterwards.
Stay the same:
I need change. I can’t hold on to a relationship for too long before I need someone new. I have trouble staying in the same place; I usually lose my job every couple years.
I didn’t want my mother to die. I didn’t want to move out of my parents’ house. I didn’t want to lose a couple of my boyfriends. I’ve had long conversations and perfect dates that I didn’t want to end.
These fragments of pleasure and pain shape the way in which we interact with the world. Positive interactions with our flesh mold us into a peaceful relationship with the environment. Negative interactions leave us hostile and full of hatred.
Does it all stem from the teat, as Freud would argue, our relationship with the (un)divine mother?
Although pleasure and pain are of the flesh, they have no human form, but we see them personified throughout mythology and psychology as sections of our whole. Joseph Campbell might call these personifications the Goddess and the Temptress. Neither mytheme represents pleasure or pain but both wrapped into ambiguous forms. The Goddess is a source of comfort and restriction, the Temptress a source of pleasure that fells us.
Jung might call this pleasure and pain the anima or animus, the opposite part of our soul, unconditional and perfect love, with which our soul can unite in the sacred marriage of syzygy, of hieros gamos.
But perhaps a better way to look at the needs of our body is through the acquisition of our boons.
As we grow older, the mother becomes lost to us and we are forced to transfer our attention from the original object of comfort (“the mother”) to a more suitable object (“baseball”) in a process called sublimation.
Our culture is filled with objects that are sublimated teats, any symbols that are round, domed, or spherical:
Would you prefer to look up at a flat white ceiling or stare up at a domed ceiling high above you, perhaps painted with fascinating artwork?
How often do you see pictures or paintings on the wall of flatlands, of deserts that stretch out for hundreds of miles? Or do you see instead images of mountains looming over their own reflections above a lake? Perhaps you’d like to go hiking in the mountains?
As a child, did you love those clowns that did balloon sculptures? Or water balloons? Maybe just blowing up balloons? Wouldn’t mad scientist experiments like these be awesome: Balloon Car, Balloon in a Bottle, and Balloon Rocket?
Can you balance a spoon on your nose or flip a spoon in the air into your hand from off the table or do the old spoon bending trick? Have you ever spoonfed a lover moist chocolate cake?
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and meandered in the produce section? Mm, nice oranges, melons, and grapefruit?
Do you like decorating Easter eggs? Do you amaze your friends with tricks involving eggs?
Do you like sports? Do you play baseball or basketball or volleyball, maybe even hockey or golf or tennis? Or do you like super balls and play with them all day, bouncing them while you walk? (I used to have a nice collection). Or do you juggle or play beer pong?
How many rings do you have on your finger? Why do we give rings as symbols of love?
Do you know all the names of the planets? Have you ever made a solar system out of Styrofoam balls? Do you look up at the moon or watch for UFOs?
These are all sublimations of the mother, unconsciously built into our software as we grow and grow. Have you consciously accepted these symbols and played with them?
In neurolinguistic programming, we sublimate more deliberately through a process called anchoring. The anchor itself is an object of sublimation that is linked to a desired emotional state through a process similar to classical condition (a la Pavlov’s dog).
Pavlov sounded a bell as his dog was given food. The dog salivated when it saw the food. Every time Pavlov served his dog its food, he rang a bell. Eventually, the dog would salivate when hearing the bell without the food. The bell represented food to the dog and triggered an emotional response as if the food were there.
The crisp clean sound of a can of Mountain Dew opening puts a smile on my face as does the sexual anticipation of a man who slowly pulls at the bottom of my shirt.
Pleasure and association can cause pleasure with just the association.
Think of something that gives you pleasure. It must be a real memory, not something that you’ve never experienced. Play that memory in your mind, imagine with every sense. The Mountain Dew is cold and sweaty in your hand, green and red like Christmas colors. You could make a tree from cans of Mountain Dew. The sound of the can opening is crisp and loud. The Mountain Dew singes your throat as your drink it. When was the last time you drank a cold, stinging can of Mountain Dew? Remember that specific time.
Some magicians believe that you need a token with you as a tangible anchor, perhaps a Mountain Dew T-shirt or just the logo in your iPod or a can of the tasty beverage itself. Other magicians believe that you can hold the symbol in your imagination, withdraw into that world to reenact the pleasure. Some believe anchors are permanent, others like myself believe that new anchors will always be needed as the pleasure of one burns itself out.
But what about the pain side?
Do you smoke?
Do you drink too much alcohol?
Do you eat more than you should?
Do you bite your fingernails or chew on pens?
Maybe you like bubble gum and/or oral sex?
Failure to ascend beyond the needs of the body results in a childish and egocentric personality dependent upon others to provide safety.
We rely upon others to solve our problems because we see our problems as other people’s problems being forced upon us.
This is your problem, not mine. You fix it.
In times of trauma we inevitably and automatically revert (“regress”) back to infantile states of mind, back to the psychological teat.
Have you ever been paralyzed below the neck for six months?
Have you ever broken down into tears when reading an unexpected e-mail telling you that your best friend just died?
Have you ever fried your brain on too many sedatives?
Have you ever lost your job? Or a long term relationship that you thought would end in marriage (it only ended up ending instead)? Or moved 300 miles away and back again in the course of a couple years? Or worse, moved back in with your parents after being on your own for years?
In these times of anxiety we reach out for the teat again.
Boo-hoo, but these are times ripest for change.
We return to infancy when everything was possible, happy little amoebas again.
A person or even a culture under trauma has a choice of two directions to move in: Backwards towards pleasure and safety (the flight reflex) or forward to fight the danger and face the future.
Look for example at the conundrum of Victorian society: they obsessed over the dead with séances and re-established traditional social values to honor the Golden Age; all movements into the past. But they also developed science and futuristic visions of marvels to come that propelled them at the speed of the steam engine into the future.
Which way do we go?